More Facial Recognition Coming to Facebook

More Facial Recognition Coming to Facebook

Facebook is changing the way users learn about photos they’re in. Using the social media platform’s facial recognition that’s already in place, Facebook will now start notifying you when you’re in a photo someone uploads—even if they don’t tag you in it.

Facebook issued a press release this week detailing how the new process will work. With the new feature, Facebook’s facial recognition will spot users in other peoples’ photos and notify them about the upload. They’ll be able to go into their “Photo Review” and decide what action to take with the photo. The company notes that no one’s privacy settings will be overridden, however. Users will only be notified that they’re in a picture if the photo is set to public or if the user is in the post’s audience. So if a photo of a user is uploaded and the picture is set to a private audience, the person in the photo won’t know.

Facebook’s news post gives two reasons for the change: safety and accessibility. They want to cut back on people taking other users’ images and setting them as their own profile photos. (When someone uses another person’s photo and passes it off as their own, it’s called “catfishing,” a practice that’s fairly common on social media.) Current profile photos are always public, so this should help cut back on impersonation.

Also, Facebook suggests this feature will help people with visual impairments. Now when a photo is described, it will include the names of everyone in the photo, whether they’ve been tagged or not. This will give people who are visually impaired an even more accurate experience when using social media.

The press release is also quick to point out that being included in the feature is not required of everyone. For one thing, it won’t be used at all in Canada or the European Union, because Facebook doesn’t use facial recognition there. For another, users can simply opt-out of the technology. Facebook is reshaping their settings to make it easier to turn off facial recognition. Their press release shows a screenshot of a “Facial Recognition” section of their mobile settings, and they describe the upcoming change as simply using an “on/off switch” that tells Facebook whether you want them to recognize you in pictures.

Many people are still wary of facial recognition technology, and understandably so. The good news is it’ll soon be very easy to stop Facebook from using it on those who are uncomfortable with it. For those who don’t mind having their face mapped, though, it’ll be easier to keep up with the photos they’re included in. If the feature works as promised, Facebook could majorly cut down on impostors. And while they’re at it, they’ll make their platform more useful and appealing to people who are visually impaired.

Google Clips: A New Kind of Smart Camera

Google Clips: A New Kind of Smart Camera

Many people want to capture the little moments in life, but they’re easy to miss if you’re not watching carefully. Google’s newly announced Google Clips should help take care of that problem in an interesting new way. Google Clips is a new kind of camera that will work unlike any other you have and will catch more of your memorable moments on…well, not on film, but on the device.

Google Clips is a small, square, white device with rounded edges and very limited functions on the device itself. As you might guess from the name, it has a clip on the back that allows it to be attached to other items, but it can also stand on its own. It has a small lens, of course, and a shutter button, but the intention of Google Clips is not to use the shutter button—it’s to let Google Clips learn which moments you might want a photo of.

Google Clips is a smart camera that recognizes and learns when it has an opportunity to take a good moving photo. As time passes, it gets better at knowing when to take a photo; it learns to recognize faces, it can tell when there’s a pet in the frame, and it even notices when there’s photo-worthy lighting. The idea is to set Google Clips somewhere in your home and allow it to take photos that you’ll enjoy seeing later, without someone having to be behind the camera. Clips doesn’t even have to connect to the internet—it connects to your phone. You can look at the photos it’s captured using your phone, and you can decide which ones to keep, which ones to share, and which ones to toss. The phone app can suggest which photos it thinks you’ll want to keep the most, and you can also use it to save specific still photo frames from a moving photo. It’s also smart in other ways, like being able to tell when the shot is blocked, and Google says it will have up to 3 hours of photo-taking in each full charge of the battery.

The idea of Google Clips is an interesting one, and, of course, it’s easy to imagine the pros and cons of such a device. One reason for using Google Clips is that it is a hands-free way to get photos—no one has to stand behind a camera. It also provides candid shots instead of photos of people with stilted or forced expressions. It could capture important moments that a family member misses, allowing that person to get a chance to see it. And hey, since it can recognize pets, it might even be possible to get some shots of what your dog gets up to while you’re at work. But there are certainly some reasons you might not want Google Clips, as well. For one thing, it might feel invasive to have a device randomly taking photos of you. If you’re doing anything that you might not want a photo taken of, you’ll have to remember to turn it off beforehand. Also, it may make some visitors to your home feel uncomfortable knowing they might be photographed at any moment, particularly if they’re averse to having their picture taken. Also, though Google Clips emphasizes its safety and security, some people might be nervous about having any device watching them throughout the day, security reassurances or not. And, of course, there’s its price: a substantial $249. Of course, for such a new type of product, a price like that isn’t strange, but it does place it outside of the typical family’s price range.

If Google Clips sounds like a device you’d like to add to bring into your smart home, you can join a waitlist now and await the announcement of a release date. While you’re waiting, make sure you look over Google’s detailed and highly informative Google Clips page. I, like many others, am looking forward to seeing this smart camera in action.